When I was in Mitsuwa (Japanese supermarket) last week, they have lychee. I immediately grabbed a bag. It has been a long time since I had lychee. It is probably because they can only be found in Asian supermarkets.
Back in Hong Kong, my mom would always buy a bunch of lychee during summer. My sister and I would gather around the dining table to munch off these sweet and juicy red fruits. They were so hard to resist. However no matter how much you like it, we would be told not to eat too much. Why? In the world of Chinese medicine, all food is being categorized as neutral, cooling or warming. To keep things balanced in our bodies, it is important to beware of what we eat. Lychee is considered as a warming food. What does that mean? If you eat too many lychee, you can get sick, such as stomachache or nose bleed. Even though I don’t follow everything in Chinese medicine, I do believe in this cooling and warming effect. I remember one time, I ate too much fried food (warming food). All the sudden, the back of my ear started to hurt. My godmother gave me a fresh pear (cooling food) to eat. I was much better right away. Too much of anything is bad, right? It isn’t a problem to eat lychee, just don’t eat too much each time.
With the fresh lychee in hands and the warmer weather approaching, I was determined to make a drink. I used half of my lychee to make this sweet drink. It is really refreshing! So perfect for summer! First, peel and deseed the lychee. Muddle the flesh and get all the juice. Other than the sweet lychee juice, it is also sweetened by a ginger and basil syrup. Just boil a little bit of water with sugar, ginger and basil. Reduce for 10 minutes. It wasn’t very strong, but you can taste a hint of the spicy ginger and fragrant basil. Combine the lychee juice and syrup. Top with ice and soda. Ta da! Done! If you are feeling something boozy, add some vodka. It is just as good!
Lychee & Ginger Cooler
– 4 ginger slices (each 1 is about 1-inch x 1/8-inch in size)
– 6 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
– 3 tablespoons sugar
– ¾ cup water
– 12 fresh lychee
– 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
– 10 ice cubes
– 12 ounces club soda
– 2 ounces vodka (optional)
- Smash the ginger slices with side of your knife.
- In a small pot over medium heat, add ginger, basil, sugar, and ¾ cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let it cool for 20 minutes. Strain and pour into a measuring cup. Add the lemon juice as well.
- Meanwhile, peel the lychee and remove the pits. Save the juice in the process. Place the lychee flesh in a small bowl and muddle to release juice. Strain the pulp and add the juice to the measuring cup. Mix well.
- Add the ice cubes to 2 serving glasses. Divide the juices into the cups. Top with soda and vodka if using. Add 1 tablespoon meshed lychee pulp into each glass. Mix well.
- Garnish with extra basil leaves. Serve immediately.
- Fresh lychee can be found in Asian supermarkets, like Mitsuwa and 99 Ranch Market. They are seasonal and only available around summer time.
- Ginger basil syrup can be made a few hours ahead. Let it cool to room temperature and keep in the fridge.
- Don’t throw away the meshed lychee pulp. Enjoy them yourselves while making the cooler. 🙂
(Adapted from When I Ate)